Friday, 24 October 2014



RYLE AND LONG, 4 John Islip St

Nick Archer, SAFE, 2014, oil on canvas, 152 x 152 cm

I only had about four "art" lessons at school but I remember the rubric well. First you paint something or someone on your paper and then you chose a background colour which "goes with" or matches what's already there. You then fill in the gaps. 

Nick Archer certainly did not go to the same school...His painterly process is to pour vivid combinations of colour onto canvasses on the floor of his studio. The colours bleed and merge into each other changing shape as if the paintings almost paint themselves. When nearly dry he fixes the canvases to the wall. He then "weaves his chosen image into the rich texture of the oily ground, making sense of the random floods of colour, balancing the complex accidental surfaces and the marks of the artist".

Safe is a large painting which draws you inexorably into the wood. The candy colours signal that this is no ordinary forest. The trees are so tall they seem to penetrate the sky. Does the caravan suggest solitude or abandonment? There is an eerie but attractive ordinariness about the scene. "Archer ...creates...a resonant atmospheric experience for the viewer to contemplate as they are cast adrift in his paradise". I'm reminded of the  magical realism which streams through Peter Doig’s work.

Nick Archer, MORT.2014.oil on copper'45 x 35 cm
This tree looks dead, it is the colour of death, and the title tells us we are right. But look again. What a travesty to talk of death in front of this sprightly creature, with its delicate limbs, its muscular upward thrust and its sinuous defiance against the background of a wind-driven sky?

 Ultimately Archer brings an open-mindedness to his artistry, so that - unlike what happens when facing a history painting - the viewer has to provide the story.


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